Monday, August 12, 2013

こんにちわ family!!!
I love/miss you all and hope all is going well! I am coming up on the end of the transfer, so maybe start sending mail through the mission home. I:m pretty sure i:ll stay in Nagano, but I don:t want to risk it.
Last Sunday, we had a really cool opportunity. We were planning to visit a less active member with a member of our ward. The Yamashitas visited that day, so it was awesome to see them. After church when we were waiting around, Yamashita shimai somehow ended up joining us. So all four of us went ot this woman;s house. We talked about the doctrine of christ and the spirit was so strong. We included the member/yamashita shimais testimonies and it was awesome. We were about to close and then Yamashita shimai started to testify adn say things. She asked the member *where are you on this path* and then the lady said *well, i haven:t been to the temple yet.* She said *well let:s make that your next goal.* It was incredible how much she was able to say. We left and everyone was just raving about what an awesome lesson it is. We really got the member to feel the dendo fire. She was like *this is how it:s supposed to be! This missionaries theach and teh members solidify.* Ever since Yamashita shimai has told everyone in our mission about the experience adn it was so cool to be able to teach with her. Ah, i love her. President yamashita has just told us countless times, you will be a trainer (both me and grant shimai)
Last tuesday we went to do service in chikuma for our mission leader. Me and sister smith made these banana chocolate chip buffins for the old folks that have alzheimers there. It is SO funny because when I go there I try to talk to the old folks and they respond and as usual i have no idea what they are saying. Hahaha. So anyway, it was really obnoxious because i would ask this old man about his hobbies or food and stuff and then i would just nod my head and smile, pretending like i understood what he said. And then the otehr missionaries who have been here longer would be like *sister crofts, you know he is now talking about cats right?* I:d be like WHAT?! hahaha gosh i never have a clue what is going on. This one man would come in and talk to me adn then five minutes later he would come back and say *who are you* and we:d have teh same conversation... Which was awesome because I realized that he would never ask me any questions so i:d just nod in agreeance. Haha. SO the treats.. We gave them to the workers and they were so, humbled? They were just speechless that we came to do service and made treats for everyone. We are really trying to dendo the workers there and get to know them more. So one of the residence was like *WHAT? CHOCOLATE? And she ate it and was so grateful and honored that we would make her treats.* SO then the workers brought out this nasty combination of milk, banana, and goya... So they gave it to me and as usual my gag reflex started popping up, but i just gulfed it down. So this lady is like *uhhh, this is repulsive* (so i:m thinking, wow this is good news. For once i:m not the only one who hates the taste of something.) hahaha So she is like- *you missionaries bring us delicious cupcakes, THESE PEOPLE give us goya juice.* hahaha she was a hoot. it really was taht bad. It:s like a bitter melon cucumber thing- aka not good. So we left and they were so grateful for us coming, i love going to that place. On the train ride back we tried to talk to everyone and anyone, it is usually the most convenient to try and open our mouths. It:s not as socially awkward as when we just walk up to people on the street. So i love the train! That night we had eikaiwa, it:s really awesome how our eikaiwa class is slowly getting bigger and bigger. We have a beginner class and an advanced class.
Thursday we had an FHE over at our stake presidents house with the other shimaitachi. His mom is a PI, and she took the lessons before but we were going to extend teh invite for lessons again. It was honestly such a good lesson (we switch off teaching the lessons when us four go together) so they taught it and the spirit was so strong. I KNOW that she felt something. But then when they asked her about the lessons she just said *oh i:m to old, it:s hard for me to understand,and my friend was this religion and i feel this way..* it really was so frustrating. She was just making so many excuses. That night really taught me how sometimes people just aren:t ready. Regardless how thorough the missionaries are, sometimes people just won:t accept it. So it was really sad to see our stake president:s heart break as she rejected it again... During dinner... we were talking and eating and stuff and then the stake pres dropped some food on the table, and he:s really funny, but it just SLIPPED OUT. I said *jozu* which means skill. Everyone just busted up laughing and I was SO EMBARASSED. Of all times for my sarcastic side to come out, it comes out at a dinner when I am supposed to be as respectful as possible. So then I was like no way am i letting this happen again. Then he was trying to grab soemthing with his chopsticks and I said *dekimasu* which means like.. You can do it. and everyone busted up laughing again. It was SUCH an accident and I felt so bad. Ahhhh. I tried to explain taht their family reminds me of my family and then they were really flattered. ON the bright side maybe it lightened the mood, but I was SO EMBARRASSED> Holy cow. I:m learning. One mistake at a time. 
So Saturday morning we were trying to figure out what to teach an investigator . We honestly had no idea, and this was going to be our first *official lesson* so we knew it needed to be important. SO anyway, during comp study we kneeled down to pray, asking for guidance from heavenly father about what to teach her. During the prayer my mind just completely cleared, the spirit burned in my heart and peace filled my body. THe same thing happened for Sister Smith. So i was like.. okay, cool, but that doesn:t help me know what to teach her! So i went to the bathroom and in my head i heard *she is so important to me* with this powerful feeling with it. It was really crazy. So me and sister smith were talking about it and then the investigator called. We were like *oh no! She:s going to cancel* But then she asked- are you busy today? No... Okay! well can we reschedule our activity from monday to today? Ummm yeah? Sure!  So she planned this whole day for us.. I don:t know why, maybe because she is the sweetest person ever. She took us up to monkey park, lunch, zenkoji. It was really awesome because we were able to understand her better, which helps us know how to help her. At lunch, she filled up these cups of tea and was like, oh here, drink this. So sister smith says *oh we:re going to get some water* So we go over there and she says *don:t you dare drink that stuff.* Hahaha. SO we didn:t, but she just didn:t understand why... We didn:t feel like the word of wisdom was appropriate in that moment. So when we went to zenkoji, it was interesting because she is buddhist. But when we asked what things were she had no idea. She took us over to this statue and she said *sister smith you can rub this to heal your back.* So smith shimai was like *ahhh... umm.. eyah.. WHAT*S THAT OVER THERE?* So then we get to this prayer thing that she was showing us and she said *you stick the money in here and then pray to the buddha.* It was just hard becasue we are misisonaries, so we can:t be praying to buddha... We weret rying to be disrespectful, but we just couldn:t. we didn:t want to give off a different image. So then we were like *oh, cool, waht:s that over there.* And we just kept changing the subject... hahaha. So we went to go in this tunnel under zenkoji and you go and pray at this little alter before. So she went up to it and then we were like dangit.. We:re never going to catch a break. So sister smith was just like- pray to god and thank him for your ansestors. So we did, we just didn:t do the rituals with is. I honestly didn:t know what to do! We dealt with the situation the best we knew how. It was so cool- you have to go there one day. Completely blew my mind how beautiful it was. So on the way home, we were just talking and I felt like I needed to ask her about church. SO i said to her, have you ever been to a christian church?* That moment smith shimai started like jabbing my leg as in *NOOOOO don:t say that*, but then I pointed to my heart and said *no, i feel it..* So then the investigator COMPLETELY OPENED UP and starts telling us that she went to a CHRISTIAN high school and she studied the bible. Me and smith shimai both look at each other and say ....  what.......She was tested on the bible and she really knows it! We had NO idea. It was cool how much her mind opened when she talked about her experiences there. We have been preparing to teach her as a buddhist... Now that she knows there is a god, that changes everything. We didn:t get the chance to talk more about it, but it was honestly the craziest thing. We got out of the car and thanked her for such an incredible day and we both just said *wow.* We needed to know that before we could continue teaching her. The spirit was so strong. I love her so much, and i feel like no that I understand her better I can help her. It was such a long day, we were together the whole day. But for some reason, we felt like it was inspired and necessary for us to help her. It was fun! We got to teach her and go see some amazing sites in Japan, so a definite win win.

Sister Crofts and Sister Smith before haircut

The aftermath. I cried. 

 After the haircut and some touching up from Grant Shimai. 
After biking up the HUGE mountain with Katsuta Shimai.I loved our kokan.  
 Baskin-Robbins ice cream in Nagano.
Kats cafe. 
Downtown Nagano. 


This is tihe face of riding a bike with rain and an ugly hair cut. 
Sleeping on Futons
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Sunflowers on the way to the church in Nagano! 

A very beautiful traditional Japanese house

Jigokudani Monkey Park

Takemoto San

Zenkoji Buddhist Temple

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